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Liz Chislett-Milne | Woman Engineer of the Day
Liz is a Business Development Consultant for Grovely Consulting Ltd. She has a wealth of experience from her career within Maritime Defence starting with 5 years in the Women’s Royal Naval Service to a career highlight when she became the first female Sales Director in Naval Shipbuilding at VT Shipbuilding.
Liz took time out to share some of the achievements and challenges she has faced during her career and the opportunities available for other women with the same desire and passion ….
What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?
I had wanted to join the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) since I was a small child and was determined to be the first female Admiral. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the right qualifications so things didn’t go my way and after 5 years of service, I looked to serve my country in a different way.
The Defence Market offered the best of both worlds and I would still be part of a very special community.
I feel very proud to have worked in many organisations with extremely clever people who design and manufacture amazing things that make a real difference to people’s lives.
What are your future career aspirations?
The next role for me would be a Business Development Director position of a medium sized enterprise. I am really enjoying the business that I am working with currently and we have a lot of unexplored potential - so strategic growth is high on the agenda. I love working with the customer community to understand how we can approach their challenges differently in a strategic relationship and develop game changing business development.
What has been a key achievement of your career to date?
Gosh! Difficult one. Each job that I have had has brought its own customer and business challenges.
I suppose I am most proud of being the first female Sales Director in Naval Shipbuilding at VT Shipbuilding. Selling warships for a living was a dream job, and I had the privilege of working for a really progressive business that embraced real customer service and quality products.
Have you faced any challenges in your career or studies so far?
Sometimes being a female in the engineering sector can be challenging, but one can either embrace it and take it head on – or go and work in a different sector.
Always make sure that you know your subject. People are always intrigued by what attracts women into Engineering especially Defence, but as long as you know what you are talking about and get the right team around you – anything is possible.
How do you think we can inspire young women to pursue a career in engineering?
If it is something that you are passionate about then it’s the right thing for you. The environment offers a platform for delivering innovation and making a difference – I think women like making a difference.
I also think that women that want to work in this sector are comfortable in a male dominated environment, and so shouldn’t be daunted by perception.
I think women today have much more opportunities with less prejudice. When I was joining the WRNS, my School Mistress tried to talk me out of it by planting me in front of the BBC News every day during Gulf War 1! Whereas today, the education system supports girls going into Engineering and the industry wants them too!
Who inspires you?
I am a great believer that nothing in life is given to you on a plate. It is all out there for the taking and through determination and hard work, anything can be achieved. So there are a number of people who have influenced my life over the years.
I remember a Captain in the Royal Navy advising me that my full potential would not be achieved in the Royal Navy and that I should leave and take the commercial world by storm! I took his advice and it has paid off.
I am grateful to the CEO of Fender Care, Yvonne Mason, who gave me my first career break after leaving the Royal Navy. She had won awards of Business Woman of the Year, and had set up an engineering business that has been a huge success. She believed in me and gave me the confidence to grow a business.
I have worked for many great people over the years and I have taken advice and inspiration from many of them. I have also learnt how not to run a business by watching those in the industry who are not inspirational.
Do you have any advice for girls and women? If you want something and you are passionate about it – go for it!
How did you hear about Matchtech?
I was approached by Matchtech – I think that Rachel found me through a recommendation from someone I had worked with. Recommendations from co-workers and industry/customer “friends” is really important in helping career development. Social media such as LinkedIn has also opened doors to new conversations that wouldn’t have happened before.
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